Nano Excerpt 2



Unlike last week, I had quite a few excerpts to pick from that I liked.  I’m feeling very optimistic about the future of this story.  Feel free to add me as a writing buddy if you’re also participating this year.

Here’s this week’s excerpt for the Nano Excerpt Blog Chain 2013.

I lift the nine millimeter from my waist.  It’s bulky in my small hands, yet zeroes in on the woman without hesitation.  “Stay back,” I tell her.

I walk backwards towards the hallway.  Sliding my feet backwards instead of walking, I strike something with the back of my sandal.  It’s wet and sticky.  An arm.  Charlene’s arm.

It latches around my foot.  I scream.

I kick her away with my other foot.

“That bitch ain’t dead yet?”  The woman says, throwing her hands up in disgust.  “She’s like one of those fucking relighting birthday candles.”

She examines the knife in her hand with a frown.  “I need a serrated edge.”

As the woman heads back into the kitchen, I kneel down.  The blood on the ground sticks to my legs like syrup.  I cup her arm to my chest.  Her fingers are freezing.  I check her wrist for a pulse; I’m half-convinced that I imagined her grabbing me.  Her heartbeat pulses against my fingers like a drum.

“Charlene, it’s me, Renee.  I’m going to get you out of here.  I’ll get you away from her.”

Footsteps echo from behind, I whip around with the gun in hand.

The woman is annoyed rather than scared.  “If you’re not going to shoot, fuck off.  I have a job to finish.”

“You’re not going to kill her.”

“I’m going to try my damnest.”

She grabs my gun around the barrel.  I pull the trigger, but it’s stuck.  Oh, God.  It won’t go off.  She yanks it out of my hand and slaps the gun across my face.  My head strikes the wall.  Too disoriented to break my fall, I hit my face against the marble floor.  The pool of blood trickles into my mouth and up my nose.

“You left the safety on, stupid.”

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NaNoWriMo Excerpt 1


Today marks the beginning of week two for NaNoWriMo.  It was extremely difficult for me to stay on track due to my hectic work schedule.  In fact, I gained a 2000 word lead and wasted it on an extra couple hours of sleep the next night.  I wish that I had time to write more.  My problem has not been a lack of direction for the novel in progress, but a lack of time to write.  I have just two hours a night to hit the 1,667 word goal.  Why does Nano have to be in November of all months?

I’m looking forward to the weekend and some well-needed time to write.  And, if I’m lucky, I’ll find some times to sleep.  Feel free to add me as a writing buddy if you’re also participating this year.

Anyway, here’s this week’s excerpt for the Nano Excerpt Blog Chain 2013.

Background:  The main character is in someone else’s body experiencing someone else’s memories.  She’s torn between finding out exactly who or what she was before and living the life she has as this other person.

A reddish sky greets me as I enter my bedroom.  Though not the most favorable view of the house, since the windows catches half the mountainside in its vision, the view showed dozens of my neighbors’ homes arranged in a stepping stone down the hill.  Beyond that, there is desert and sky.  The towel wrap around my body feels like a shell.  I want to shed it and fly out my window.

I’m not scared of falling.

I’m scared that I’m grounded for eternity.  I rub my shoulders and imagine feathers sprouting.  I crave the wings of an angel.

With palms on the glass, I stand at the glass while the sun peeks over the horizon.  A buzzing in my left ear increases in volume until I’m deaf to the world around me.  Memories leak into my consciousness without pattern.

An elephant walks around in a circle, tracking up a whirlwind of dust as a little girl tugs on a man’s shirt.  She wants to go for a ride.  She asks the man because her mother has said no.  As usual, the man caves to the wishes of her mother.  The girl can’t help but feel hate blossom as the other children are plopped on the back of this giant gray creature.

On foot on the scooter, another on the ground.  The girl waits beneath a stop sign.  Across the street from her is a playground.  Metal bars and plastic slides.  Vanilla sand cushions the landing of the children playing.  The girl lays her scooter on the ground and then she dips her hand into her purple backpack and pulls out a plastic bag of green grapes.  She bites a grape in half.  Her eyes never leave the playground.

“S-stop,” I slur.    I squeeze my hands against my head.  An hammer pounds against my face.  Tears leak out.  I collapse into a fetal position.  The rising sun has become my enemy.  It enhances the ache in my head until I’m blinded from pain.

A numbness passes through my fingertips and travels down my veins until my arms are no longer felt.  Nausea slices my insides.  I vomit.  My hands are moving me.  I’m crawling.  Limbs reacting to a power not my own.  As sight begins to fail, I focus on the other senses.  The roughness of carpet against my knees.  The smell of dust and the slight breeze tickling hairs into my face.  The heaviness of my breath.

I succumb to a shallow sleep.  I wake with a pen in hand.  It’s still in motion, yet the strikes against the paper are losing purpose.

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10 Reasons I love NaNoWriMo


10 Reasons I love NaNoWriMo

1.  You can ask anything on the boards and people will give a serious response.  Where else can I ask ‘what does a severed hand look like 30 minutes after death’?

2.  You don’t feel alone while writing.  It’s the only time of the year where thousands of writers are at the same exact stage of a story as you.

3.  After reading excerpt from other writer’s stories, it becomes clear that you are not the worst writer in the world.  There is hope.

4.  You can submit a sample of your story to other writers without being judge on grammar or spelling.  Usually, I get the red pen of death or worse, a ‘don’t bother writing until you learn how to write’, which makes no sense if you think about it.

5.  If you write yourself in a corner, there’s a board dedicated to solving plot problems.  People are very creative with possibilities too.

6.  Your spouse forgives you for staying up until 5am, because he knows there’s a word count deadline to make.

7.  You have a “get away from in-laws” excuse every Thanksgiving.  Sorry, grandma.  I have another 10,000 words to write.

8.  Depressed about writing?  Think everything you do sucks?  There’s a board for people like you!  Wallow in self-doubt and pity with hundreds of other unpublished writers.

9.  Excited about some miniscule accomplishment?  There’s a board for people like you!  Prepare to have half a dozen people congratulate you on writing 5 words for every doughnut you eat.

10.  You have the opportunity to meet other recluse writers in your area.  Now you can have friends outside of the internet!


And just because I can, here’s an excerpt from my Nano 2013.

I know the intensity of this scene needs work.  Ah well, I’ll tackle that in December.  This is the sequel to the book I’ve been editing on and off for the past year.

For clarification, the main character is driving an ATV through the one of the dormant volcanic hills in northern Arizona.  She’s searching for Hundred Dollar Hill, where dozens of people can be found trying to scale this extremely steep hill on all types of off-road vehicles.

I shift down a gear as I tackle a steeper hill.  I could have made it if I’d kept on the gas from the base.  I’d been too cautious with the speed.  Even though I’ve seen my uncle conquer much larger hills with this vehicle, my naivety is hard to overcome.  There’s a break in the trees on top of this hill.  I stand up and survey the area.  In the distance, I can see the peaks of Flagstaff.  They’re gray and dark this time of year but in winter they’re snow-capped.  Much closer to me are other black gravel hills.  They’re dotted with trees in the shallow grades and each one has dozens of tire tracks.  I frown.  Hundred Dollar Hill might be one of them, but it’s not recognizable from this angle.  None of these hills have the near-vertical slope I’m looking for.

I spin the vehicle in a circle.  I can’t figure out which way it is to the hill.

“Fuck it,” I finally say.  I buckle up again and ride the ridge.  There’s quite a few trails heading back down.  I chicken out on the route closest to me that will lead me back to the trailer.  I can’t overcome that fear of flipping over, even though basic physics assure me that it is not likely as long as I’m careful not to lock my brakes.  It’s a quarter mile and a few turns before I settle on a path down.

Instead of straight down, I ride against the hill to make the decline even less of an angle.

Compared to the rest of the area, it’s wide open and the lack of trees present a camera-worthy view of the area.

I hear the roar of an engine and look up at the top of the hill.

By the time the shadow of the sand rail cloaks my car like a blanket, it’s too late.

Twisting, spinning out of control.  Vomit burns my throat like my mother’s liquor as I up heave what little is in my stomach.  Ten.  Twenty.  The second pass like years until the vehicle strikes the base of the hill.

I feel the lashes beating against my lids, though the thickness of the dust has transformed the afternoon into twilight.  My ears ring like sirens.  One by one my limbs scream like a military role call.  Everything seems to be attached.  I wiggle my fingers and toes one by one, counting simultaneously.  Twenty.

There’s pressure on my chest.  I’m wet from my breasts to my waist.  I think I peed myself too.

Please, let it be sweat.  Let it be sweat that’s dripping down my midsection.

As the dust begins to settle, I see the dark color staining my clothes.  My heart sinks until I no longer feel it beating in my chest.

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Guest Post: The Other Side of the Other Side


The Other Side of the Other Side

Guest Post by Starr Gardinier Reina


Green grass as far as the eye can see to the left of me, bright skies all around, calm blue waters such as one would see in Hawaii to the right of me. It all sounds so glorious. A place worthy of a long, relaxing vacation. It is, it’s beautiful here. It was the sight I was faced with five years ago when I arrived. I couldn’t have been happier.

That is, until I found out that it’s not all sunshine and smiles. The Other Side is not always what people may think. There is another side to the Other Side. It can be formidable and dark, filling a soul full of anguish and anxiety. After the first month, I learned that the Other Side is what you make of it, what you perceive. And how you lived your life on Earth. That latter being the more decisive of what your after world is going to be like.

Integrating back into the perfect, happy place is possible, but one must work hard to rid themselves of the evil they breathed on Earth. Doing penance does not consist of just promising to be good. To appease the ‘higher ups’ you must collect souls—hungry, rampant souls smacking of pure immorality—from Earth as they are about to die. Without going into detail, I will say collection is not the end of it. No, you must also stop the last act that mortals are trying to play out on Earth, safely without harm coming to the humans. You may think that’s easy, but remember, we’re talking about the most malevolent entities that exist within human forms.

I’m still trying to get myself back to the good side, to be worthy again of the thriving brightness I remember. I haven’t seen it in almost five years. I’ve only one soul to go.

I’m looking over to Earth now. I see one! That one will work just fine. And before you get upset, remember: I didn’t pick your soul. You showed the blackness the first time you acted out without even trying to force the evil side away. You are the one who allowed temptation to drive you over the edge to the other side.


The Other Side: Melinda’s Story

by Starr Gardinier Reina

Publisher:  Suspense Publishing, an ITW approved publishing company

Genre:  Paranormal, Mystery

212 pages ebook/paperback

Links:  Goodreads  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Amazon  |  Smashwords

Released April 9, 2013.

Melinda James has a problem. She’s in Skyview Haven because her entire family and best friend are dead. Did she kill them? Does she belong in the asylum keeping her from harming herself and others?

Her father Paul James is killed in a car accident. She attends his funeral and she does see him lying in the casket. Or does she? It turns out her best friend Beth is the one who is dead and her father is there to console her. What is going on?

She thinks she’s going crazy, especially when she discovers both are actually gone from this earth and they talk to her from…‘the other side.’ Are her father and Beth actually speaking to her from beyond? Why? What do they want?

Soon, Melinda finds the answers and they aren’t what she wants to hear. Paul insists he was killed and his whole family is in danger.

This is part of Melinda’s story that she shares with Dr. Alex Leever, the psychiatrist who is assigned her case. All she wants is someone to hear her story—and believe. Melinda slowly begins to trust Dr. Leever and steadily reveals her long, complicated, intricate tale.

While at Skyview, Melinda meets Trent and they become friends, until she learns something about him that rocks her world. Is he there to hurt her? Does he want what her father was killed over?

Problems mount quickly and she discovers that there are people who want something only she can give them. Is Trent one of those people?

Her family tries to help from beyond, but Melinda is running out of time. She needs to give them what they want or die. Can the dead protect the living? Will they be enough to protect her?

I tried to tell them it was going to happen, but nobody would listen. They all said I was just having bad dreams, or that I was crazy.
It started at my father’s funeral. It’s been so long since it first began, about eight years ago. Sometimes though, it seems like yesterday. My father was there. No, I don’t mean just in the casket. He was there. He talked to me, begged me to tell Mom that we all needed to run and hide. He said we were all in danger.

I asked him why he didn’t tell Mom himself. He said he tried, but she wasn’t listening. I heard him fine. But I didn’t believe him. Why would we be in danger? We can’t just up and leave. My friends are all here in Beaumont. When I told him this, he said it was important, that it was a matter of life and death. He seemed so worried, but I was so confused, I blew him off.

I guess when it first happened I didn’t pay any heed to his warning. We went on with our lives. Mom was grief stricken, my brother Kyle was in his own world playing videos and I was trying to shut my father out of my mind. Was I going crazy? What was wrong with me? Dad was dead, but I could still see and hear him.

If I tell you the story, will you believe me?

Pic Option 2A paralegal by day, she’s an author by night. Apart from being an award winning author for her short story “Cut”, Reina has appeared in a blaze and made her mark on the literary world with her Ivanovich Series. The first is “In the Name of Revenge”, the second, “Deadly Decisions” and the third, “One Major Mistake” was released July 10, 2012. Having studied and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Literature/Creative Writing, she has found her unique style and is known for her works’ distinctive voice, making every character stand out.

Reina is the artistic creator of the Ivanovich series featuring Pavel Ivanovich. Flanking Ivanovich’s side in “Deadly Decisions” is Teresa Mancini, who vies with Ivanovich for readers’ attention. According to J.M. LeDuc, who was “raised in an Italian family”, Teresa “is perfect…like all your characters”. Reina is also the author of young adult novella “Cruel Whispers” and its sequel novel “Cruel Past”.

Reina is an executive editor for Suspense Magazine. She has been interviewed in the newspaper and on the radio with relation to her fiction work. She has been a co-host on Suspense Radio.

Reina is a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW) and of Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles Chapter and nationally. She has won three Best Speaker awards as well as Best Evaluator at the Voice Ambassadors chapter of Toastmasters. She has always been active in events. As co-chair and main coordinator for the West Coast Author Premiere, she arranged the weekend-long event to help authors from all over network, learn and share their work with the public. Reina has also been instrumental in compiling authors and planning a local author event at Barnes and Noble in Ventura, California along with the store’s event manager.

Please read more about Starr at or visit her blog at

Facebook  |  FB Author Page  |  Twitter  |  Blog  |  Website


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Guest Post + Giveaway: Wisteria by Bisi Leyton

wisteria tour

Today we have a brief guest post by author Bisi Leyton, as well as a sweet excerpt from Wisteria.  You can check out the full tour schedule (hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer) HERE.

guest post image

Research involved to write Wisteria

I did not do that much research from Wisteria. I did checkout ta few zombie movies, but I tried to draw as much from my imagination as I didn’t want to simply copy was done or written before. I conducted some research about fairs and fair folk when trying to put together the Family, because I had considered making them fairies, but as the story progressed that became less and less central to the plot.

Have you ever had an personal encounter with the supernatural? 

I believe the fact our planet exists in this universe is supernatural.

What is your all-time favorite monster?

Zombies! This was the reason I wrote about them. On variation of them is the space zombie or the Borg from Star Trek.

Inspiration behind the Red Phoenix group

Red Phoenix just came into the story when I needed an explosion. I don’t know why put them in, but they’ve since become key to the Wisteria mystery.  Initially, I wanted them to be humans who hunted The Family, but they have become so much more than that. 

wisteria cover

Wisteria by Bisi Leyton

Genre:  Horror

Publisher:  Self published

Released August 15th, 2013

Links:  Lulu | Amazon | Smashwords

Sixteen year old Wisteria Kuti has two options—track the infected around the Isle of Smythe or leave the only known safe haven and face a world infested with flesh eating biters. But even with well-armed trackers, things go wrong and Wisteria ends up alone facing certain death, until she is rescued by the mysterious Bach. Uninfected, Bach is able to survive among the hordes of living dead.

Eighteen year old Bach, from a race known as The Family, has no interest in human affairs. He was sent here to complete his Great Walk and return home as a man—as a Sen Son. The Family regard humans as Dirt People, but Bach is drawn to this Terran girl, whom he has never seen before, but somehow knows.

Hunted by flesh eaters, cannibals, and the mysterious blood thirsty group called Red Phoenix, Wisteria and Bach make their way back to the Isle of Smythe, a community built on secrets and lies.


As she walked back to the ridge of the roof, Bach’s heart went with her. Someone had tried to hurt her. Tried to damage what belonged to him, and who he belonged to.He started to feel dizzy from the volumes of strangle weed planted in the front of her house.

“Thank you so much for coming and for the guitar. It’s perfect.” She gave it back to him.

“No, it is yours, Wisteria.” He refused to take it. “Do you not like it?”

“No, I love it. It’s so beautiful.”

“Then keep it.” He kissed her neck. Knowing—hoping—his touch would soothe her pain, but he hadn’t come here to comfort her.

“Bach.” She used her instrument as a shield as she moved away from him. “It’s a bad idea. You won’t understand.”

“You are right. I do not get why you would refuse something you apparently love,” he whispered while rubbing her forearms and taking in her scent.

“If I accept your kindness, then I’ll have to face the consequences. I don’t know if I can face those.”

“You cannot face accepting my kindness, or is it accepting me that you cannot face?”


“Tell me that you do not feel the same,” he whispered. “That the moment you first saw me that I did not get inside your head. Tell me that you do not think about me all of the time when we are not together?”

The dark-eyed girl did not answer.

Wishing he could will her to speak, he pressed her against his chest. Briefly, he noticed a black spot at the base of her neck, where he had kissed her, and then it was gone. “Okay, Wisteria. Then tell me that you want me to leave, and that you do not care if you never ever see me again.” He felt like someone else was speaking for him, once again. The questions became pointless as he found himself still planting kisses along her neck and the sides of her face.

“I can’t tell you that, Bach,” she replied softly, her voice breaking. “Because it’s not true.” She wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly.

Desperately wanting to kiss her luscious-looking lips, he leaned into her.

Wisteria reached up to him, tugging his head down as she stood on the very tips of her toes, seemingly just as eager to taste his lips.

“Wisteria, I cannot.” He broke away before it happened. “I do not want this.”

* * * * *

Wrapping her arms around herself, she moved away from him. Once again, humiliated and feeling foolish. “Goodnight, Bach!” She strode angrily to the side of the roof in order to climb down.

He grabbed her and held her back

The guy came here just to tease her, yet again! Didn’t he know he was hurting her? Didn’t he care? “I’m tired of all this nonsense. I’m actually tired and need some sleep. I’m done with this. All of this!” She should’ve left the roof when she saw him appear. “Let go, so I can go.”

“Wisteria, it is not that.” Exhaling heavily, he released her. “My people could kill you if they knew I wanted you.”

This wasn’t at all what she’d expected him to say. “What?”

“I am in love with you. I do not know why, but I am. And it is selfish, because I just want you for myself.” Sadness filled his eyes as he spoke.

“Why would they do that to me?”

“Because you are human and because we see humans as Terran, or dirt people.”

“And you believe that too? So why are you here, living among us, if we’re so disgusting?”

“You are not disgusting. You are beautiful.” Rubbing his temples, he seemed troubled and bewildered. “I came to Terra as a rite of passage. To be considered a man, to take a journey and experience the wild.”

“The wild?”

“I chose Terra, or Earth, because I came here as a child. Your people treated me so badly in the past. When I learned about the Nero disease, I wanted to see your world.” He paused. “You were right when you said there was something wrong with me.”

“Bach, it cannot be that bad.” Stepping up to him, she stroked her fingers along his biceps.

The sweet motion made him smile at her, but he still looked distressed.

“Like about Garfield, you let him live with you. And now you’re here with me.”

“You are not like the rest.”

“Neither are you. You’re not so cold and cruel like Enric or patronizing like Felip. They think they’re better than us. You just hate people because you’re a jerk, Bach.”

“Ha.” Bach laughed. “A jerk?”

“You’re a big jerk.” As the final word rolled from her lips, he kissed her.

She was stunned for a second. His lips tasted like a strange, tantalizing spice.

He squeezed her against his larger frame and rested his right hand on the small of her back.

She fidgeted, unsure about what to do with her hands. She tried to kiss him back, but she struggled because she was so short.



Praise for Wisteria:

“I love the buildup of this story, getting to know the characters and watching their connection grow. I had no idea which way the story was headed and I was kept in suspense right up to the very end! It has plenty of action and a fascinating plot and I can’t wait to see what Bisi Leyton has for us next!!”

Naomi Hop

“There are a lot of great things in this book, so much more than zombies and a struggle for survival. At it’s base core it is about star-crossed lovers, literally and the supporting characters roles… Ms. Leyton brings to Wisteria a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, dystopic world with a twist to the paranormal romance angle!”

Cabin Goddess

“The book was full of nonstop action from the beginning until the end, and I did not put it down until I had finished it. I loved the book.”

~Author Monique Morgan

Book Trailer:


Audiobook Excerpt: 

about authorBisi Leyton was born in East London in 1978. She grew up in London, Nigeria and the States, listening to the stories life and love from aunts, cousins and big sisters.

She lives in London, but has worked around Europe including France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the Czech Republic. She has a fondness for reading graphic novels.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

giveaway image lizzy dark fiction

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/31/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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